What Happened to the First “R”?: Students' Perceptions of the Role of Textbooks in Psychology Courses



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To investigate undergraduate students' perceptions of the role of the textbook in psychology courses, the authors surveyed 311 psychology students. Using an online survey, students answered questions about textbook importance, usage, and preferences and about scenarios that described a textbook as a resource or central course element. If an instructor expected students to read and understand textbook material before class, students perceived they would learn less, enjoy the course less, and find the course more difficult than if an instructor described the textbook as a resource to which students might refer for clarification. Results indicated that students valued classroom experiences more than textbook reading. The authors discuss how such preferences may reflect prior reading experiences and instructors' emphases.